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South West Face (Harding) Route 

YDS: 5.10c French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII ZA: 20 British: E2 5b

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches, 1200', Grade IV
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10c French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII ZA: 20 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: Warren Harding, et al
Page Views: 8,153
Submitted By: Alex Shainman on Jun 25, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (29)
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nearing the summit plateau


Considering the rock quality in a couple sections, a few insecure moves and the wide crack, that would be a burly solo! I can't decide what is more sick...Peter Croft's onsight solo or Walt Shipley's after doing the route roped and knowing what to expect!!

The route is exciting and physical and a must do for the High Sierra tick list.

Pitch 1: 3 options...Center option is a groove to a roof (slightly loose) (9+, 115').

Pitch 2: Easiest free version is to step down and traverse right on the lower crack approximately 20' where its possible to move back up to the upper crack at a good jug in between. Clip a pin and wiggle up to a roof. Fun finger/hand crack changes to a lieback to a sloping ledge where you can go left or right to end on the upper ledge with multiple 3rd pitch options (10, 200').

Pitch 3: If on the right side of the upper ledge...Go up a flake to a broken left facing corner and a piton belay on a ledge (8+, 120').

Pitch 4: Pick the easiest run out path to the corner chimney (which you don't really chimney, stay outside) (7+, 110').

Pitch 5: Hand and fists in the corner to a 6-7" OW/stem over a bulge passing old bolts. Continue up the 7-8" OW/Squeeze with a lonely old bolt to a a good ledge (10, 150'). #3 and #4 BigBro's may be nice.

Pitch 6: Go right on the ledge and up the obvious left facing corner with two bolts. At the second bolt make a wild traverse right to the finger cack groove with a squeeze finish to a jumbled ledge (10-, 190').

Pitch 7: Move right and up a bizarre corner system with a strenuous lieback. Follow broken rock to a sloping ledge under a flared goove (9+, 190').

Pitch 8: Up the groove and follow the natural weakness for a 190' pitch (5.5).

Pitch 9: 200+' fourth class loose grooves to the summit.


Approach from the back of Sawmill campground on a nice trail and past the Carnegie Institute. Still on a trail, trend left and up the creek drainage. Crossing talus and snow, aim for the natural rock tongue-weakness which borders the snow up to the skyline of the left edge of the east face bowl. Follow the ridgeline to the north on a worn trail all the way to the notch/view of the awesome south face of granite (stay on the trail). Drop your packs and descend the mostly solid gully. The route starts at a point left of center on the main wall. Locate the "Goodrich Memorial", a plaque bolted to the rock in a right facing corner up and right of the route's first pitch.

Descent from the summit is quick and simple thanks to cairns and built-up steps followed by a worn trail down soft dirt which leads back to the descent gully/notch and your packs.


Nuts/hexes, 3/4" cams to 8" tubes, runners, 60M rope.

Photos of South West Face (Harding) Route Slideshow Add Photo
Dave Goldstein negotiates the first of the wide sections of pitch four -- further OW looming
Dave Goldstein negotiates the first of the wide se...
Mike on the first of the 3 P4 offwidths
Mike on the first of the 3 P4 offwidths
Starting the sixth pitch (P7 in Supertopo)
Starting the sixth pitch (P7 in Supertopo)
more P5
more P5
Last 5.9 section before summit gullies
Last 5.9 section before summit gullies
The Goodrich Memorial at the base of the SW Face
The Goodrich Memorial at the base of the SW Face
Luke enjoys the amazing alpine granite on one of the upper pitches of the Harding Route on Conness.
Luke enjoys the amazing alpine granite on one of t...
more of P4
more of P4
Looking down to the SW Face from the Conness descent
Looking down to the SW Face from the Conness desce...
Pitch 1 is wet
Pitch 1 is wet
The Harding Route in it's entirety. Two climbers are visible atop the first pitch, in the lower left hand corner of the photo.  July 2010
The Harding Route in it's entirety. Two climbers a...
Dmitriy Litvak following the crux P4 5.10 OW
Dmitriy Litvak following the crux P4 5.10 OW
approach from Sawmill
approach from Sawmill
approaching via the E Ridge
approaching via the E Ridge
looking toward Yosemite
looking toward Yosemite
looking down the last and most grovelly of the offwidth sections on P4
looking down the last and most grovelly of the off...
Mike starting P5
Mike starting P5
wet mossy bit on P5
wet mossy bit on P5
starting the corner on P5
starting the corner on P5
first glimpse of the route from the top of the approach gully
first glimpse of the route from the top of the app...
the 10b traverse on P5 (even spicier with wet shoes)
the 10b traverse on P5 (even spicier with wet shoe...
looking down P1. To avoid most of the wetness I climbed an overlap to the right of the cracks then traversed back left to reach the corner. This was runout but better than wet mossy rock.
looking down P1. To avoid most of the wetness I cl...

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 8, 2014
By david goldstein
Jul 3, 2007

I thought this was a better route than Red Dihedral on The Incredible Hulk. Pitches two through seven are all quite good.

I thought following P1, which I followed, was the crux -- wet, loose, freezing and not overly protected.

We had a 4,5 & 6 C4 Camalot. The 5 & 6 came in handy, the 4 was basically dead weight. If you're really concerned about weight, you could leave the 5 at home, but I strongly recommend having the 6 which, if you're willing to walk it along as you climb, protects most of the harder wide parts of P4; otherwise, your protection for the last 100+' of this pitch will be a few 1/4" bolts, most of which are about 50 years old.

We found the SuperTopo pitch lengths to be consistently short.

The approach from the east is easy to screw up at several points. The correct notch from which one descends from the summit plateau can be hard to identify. We incorrectly interpreted an obvious saddle about five minutes walk south from where we'd gained the plateau as the notch; while this way we went was easy, it probably added at least 20 minutes to our approach. From the base of the route we identified what was probably the correct descent: it is pretty close to the summit, one can see the entire SW Face route from it and it faces north.
By caughtinside
From: Oakland CA
Aug 21, 2008

supertopo pitch lengths were definitely short. We took a 4 and a 6 camalot, no 5, and that worked well.

The corner to chimney after that .10b traverse pitch was a sleeper crux!

I led the first pitch in late August of a light snow year and the first pitch was a little wet but not bad, .9 felt about right and pro is decent.
By Nick Stayner
From: Billings, MT
Sep 8, 2008

We carried a double rack from blue TCU-#3 camalot, and a #6 friend (the big one), which was placed twice. The four and the five camalots are unnecessary (yes, they really are, despite the offwidth). The bolts are better than one would think, possibly retros from the 70s or some other bygone era? Physical, demanding day. The first pitch, even in mid-August, was still soaking and probably the worst pitch I climbed in the High Sierra all summer. Have fun!
Wonderful route.
By Luke Stefurak
From: Mountain View, CA
Sep 21, 2009

We had a double rack from Purple TCU to #2 Camalot and then a single #3, #4 and #6. As Nick noted the #4 was not needed and we didn't miss the #5. The #6 was nice even though the 2nd part of the O/W was at least 8" and too big for a good placement.

The bolts are old Star Drives with awesome ring piton hangers... My partner clipped them but I doubt they would hold a fall and should be replaced.

Approach beta can be found here:
By x15x15
Sep 26, 2009

a 70 meter rope seemed to be a natural fit for this route. we used a hand drawn topo copied from the reid and falkenstein guide, and were on top in 7 pitches. 3 pitches were full 70 meters. a really, really, fun route.

By fossana
From: Bishop, CA
Jun 18, 2012

This was the most sustained route I've done in the Sierra, as Jon O'Brien would say, full value.
By Eric and Lucie
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 6, 2012

We got seriously sandbagged on the approach to this route: I think most people should expect between 4 and 6 hours carrying full gear for this route as a team of two...
By trying hard
From: Sierra East Side
Jul 14, 2013
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

Linking pitches is key. This is a quick send if you link. Alternate start on pitch one was about 10c. Stoked to have a "6" on multiple pitches.
By aaronlrichards
Jul 7, 2014

Just did this route on June 29th. It was a really low snow year. Pitches 1 was of course wet, but so was a short section of the off width, pitch 4. And most of the traversing pitch and chimney, pitch 5 and 6. Trip report here - ianmceleney.com
By Katiebird
Aug 24, 2014

Patrick O'Donnell and I just climbed this on 8/23/14. What a beautiful route! It's standard fare for the Sierra and Yosemite (really). So, if you are used to some wetness, airy climbing, wide handling and linking pitches then this route really isn't bad. In my opinion its "SUPER FUN CLASSIC "! The old bolts are beautiful pieces of work. We brought a #6 and found it handy. We also had a #4 but it is not necessary. No #5 and I never had the thought about wanting it either.
By Richard Shore
Sep 2, 2014

The most physical route I've done in the Sierra. The OW pitches felt harder than those on Keeler Needle, which are similarly graded at a higher altitude. A #6 can be walked through much of the 5.10 OW pitch 4, clipping bolts/pins as you pass by. Beware the 3rd and 6th pitch 5.8 squeezes! A very proud climb. At least 3 different guidebooks give this route a grade V rating, so be prepared. "Only 9 pitches, AND you can link some, this should be quick!". I thought this would be the easiest of the "Big 4", as it was my last, but I felt it actually was the hardest. Certainly the steepest.
By JSlack
Sep 8, 2014

Pitch 1 is (mostly) dry as of 9/7/14. This was a full value route. We did it in 8 pitches, taking 9 hours. The pitch 2 crux is short and well-protected, and it is quite possible to, ahem, uh, stem through the 10a offwidth bit (which I followed). We brought doubles through #3 C4, plus a green big bro and #6 C4. I also threw in extra yellow and orange Mastercams and was happy to have them for building belays as pitches 2-7 (as we did them) are all rope stretchers. Fun route that never lets up.